I’m Trying to be Like Jesus

For many months this song was my 2 year old (now 3 year old)’s request every night before bed. I felt inspired to write a piano arrangement in dedication to her. So Talia, here you go! Mommy loves you despite the buttons of mine you push 🙂 I have learned that the more I act like Christ would with you, the kinder you are. Truly following in the Savior’s steps makes everyone around us happier.

I’m Trying to be Like Jesus Piano Solo

Composing Tips: Print out the standard version

I’ve recently started something that has helped me in arranging songs. I’ll take the hymn or Children’s Songbook song I want to arrange and print it out in the key or keys I want it to be in. Since lds.org does the key changes for you, it makes it so much easier!

So, here’s what I do. I print it out and put it on the keyboard in front of me before I pull out my composing music paper. I play it through a few times adlibbing an arrangement. If I come up with a different melody for a phrase or chord to accompany the melody that sounds interesting, I write it on the sheet music I printed out. This gives me a few ideas for when I start to write it out.

Sometimes you’ll think of good ideas before you are writing out your music so this makes sure you get some of them down before you forget it. I have done this and it is a sad thing! It can be messy and crowded to do it this way but it has helped me 🙂

Finalist! LDS Music Competition 2017

This is the 6th year I’ve entered a song in the annual music competition. Every year I’ve gotten the same result:

Although your work, *such and such* was not among the recognized entries, we are gratified to find so many Latter-day Saints that are contributing their talents to the Church.

This year I entered my violin/piano arrangement of “When I Am Baptized.” It still was not a winner but for the first time I saw this new line:

Although your work, “When I Am Baptized,” was not among the recognized entries, we wanted you to know that it was among the finalists. This is an accomplishment worthy of note considering the quantity of submissions.

I was a finalist!

If you are entering and not winning…don’t give up hope! I’ve noticed myself improve in my skills every year. Looking back to my first entry, it was a wreck. I’ve learned a lot. Ask for editing from a musical friend. I’ve improved my knowledge a lot from doing that. Also, look at the songs that are winners. They will show you what the judges are looking for. Hopefully this is helpful for you who are also entering!

This is the 6th year I’ve entered a song in the annual music competition. Every year I’ve gotten the same result:

Although your work, *such and such* was not among the recognized entries, we are gratified to find so many Latter-day Saints that are contributing their talents to the Church.

This year I entered my violin/piano arrangement of “When I Am Baptized.” It still was not a winner but for the first time I saw a new line:

Although your work, “When I Am Baptized,” was not among the recognized entries, we wanted you to know that it was among the finalists. This is an accomplishment worthy of note considering the quantity of submissions. We are gratified to find so many Latter-day Saints that are contributing their talents to the Church.

I was a finalist! Maybe in 6 more years I’ll have a winner 🙂

I just wanted to post this to give those of you who also enter a little hope!

Stop Playing, Listen in your Head

I was trying to find a transition between two verses and what I was coming up with was pretty boring and frankly, not fitting right. So I played the arrangement up to that point and stopped as soon as the verse was over. I closed my eyes and started singing in my head what would sound good. I was able to come up with a beautiful sound the first time I tried this.

I’ve definitely heard music in my head before but this time it helped to stop at a part I was stuck on and try to get my brain instead of my fingers to figure it out.

When I Am Baptized

I have wanted to do an arrangement of this song for a long time but I was kind of waiting for inspiration to strike. Well, strike it did and just in time for my son’s baptism this year! I wrote the violin/piano version first and really wanted a voice option too. So, I modified the music and created that also.

You’ll notice I did my signature signature 🙂  Yep, I changed it from 3/4 to 6/8. I may love 6/8 a little too much!

I’m hoping to get recording with a real violin when my sister-in-law comes into town next. For now, this will do. I hope you love this version as much as I do (I sit down just to play this all the time)!

When I Am Baptized Piano/Violin
When I Am Baptized Violin
When I Am Baptized Piano/Voice

Piano/Violin:

Piano/Voice:

Composing Tip: Switching Up Rhythms

I’ve been working on a song in 6/8 time. Toward the end of the song I had a measure where the melody had 3 eighth notes then a dotted quarter. It didn’t sound right. I mean, it wasn’t a bad sound but it wasn’t interesting. When I switched that up and played the dotted quarter first then the 3 eighth notes, it not only sounded really good but it had a different feel than other parts of the song. It was just what that part of the song needed. Try out switching rhythms!

When Faith Endures

First off, this song is unbelievably fun to play and sing. So even if you’re not a great singer but like to sing  (like me) try it out after listening to it and getting the feel for it in your head.

About the song…

I have always liked the lyrics to this song. I felt like I wanted to do to this song what Rob Gardner did to Savior Redeemer of My Soul. Ok, so mine isn’t nearly as touching as that amazing arrangement but it sure gave me inspiration.

I really wanted to add a second verse. I found one that had some great lyrics written by Bryant Adams. With his permission I changed a few of the lyrics. I really wanted the song to end with “when faith endures” and I wanted to add this idea by Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf given in a general conference address entitled, “Be Not Afraid, Only Believe”:

“When we choose to believe, exercise faith unto repentance, and follow our Savior, Jesus Christ, we open our spiritual eyes to splendors we can scarcely imagine. Thus our belief and faith will grow stronger, and we will see even more.”

Oh, I love that and I hope that message comes across in this arrangement. I recommend opening up the music in another tab and following along with the video since the melody and lyrics will be unfamiliar. Enjoy!

When Faith Endures

Faith in Every Footstep

Our stake choir director asked if I could arrange an easy version of this song for a youth stake choir. K. Newell Dayley’s SSAATTBB arrangement is beautiful with a capital B, but way too hard for a beginning choir. So, I tried to make an easier arrangement with a very similar feel as Dayley’s. I almost feel bad saying it’s my arrangement because I imitated his so closely. I just hope this helps some choirs with fewer choir members or more inexperienced members.

I decided to add an SATB for choirs who are lucky enough to have more people and experience.

Faith in Every Footstep (SAB)
Faith in Every Footstep (SAB & piano)
Faith in Every Footstep (SATB)
Faith in Every Footstep (SATB & piano)
Faith in Every Footstep (Piano only)

Choir tips: Here’s something I’ve never done before because until recently I knew nothing about singing. Luckily, I worked with an amazing choir director whose notes these are. This pdf is her marked-up notes for the youth choir. It is the notes for the SAB version but you can use them as reference for the SATB version as well.

Our director gave the youth this music when they were first learning their parts, then she gave them the above music afterward. NB=no breath. Commas=breath. And it is easy to hold out the last note. Choir members can breath whenever they want as long as it’s not the same time as the person next to them and they keep their mouth looking like they are still singing. Our choir director always said, “Breath anywhere you want except where there’s a slur!”

I hope this all helps! I know working with this piece helped me learn a lot!

Faith in Every Footstep parts with choir notes

Forgive my voice and I promise it sounds amazing with a full choir!

I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

I think this is the longest it has ever taken me to complete a song but it was worth it! There are a two points of interest I have in this song:

1. A while back I had a composing tip post called Play it Backwards. This is the song where playing it backwards worked. If you go to the Hymn book and play the last measure or 2 of this song backwards, then listen to my intro you’ll hear the similarity.

2. I love how the third verse of this song says that we are laboring for “Jesus the Crucified.” I slowed down this part of the music on the third verse to really emphasize the importance of this truth. When I think of the lyrics and play this part I get teary eyed. (the note that is held out in measure 65-66 could be shortened a little, just saying if you want to try that–I have it the way it is for the beat sake)

I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go

Composing Tip: Change Octaves

When arranging music I feel intros can be tricky to come up with. I don’t just want to play the last line of the song as an intro. That can be boring, and coming up with something new can sometimes sound out of place for the song.

One thing I have done to change up an intro is change octaves on the last note of a line. Take “I Feel My Savior’s Love” for example. Look at the first line (line of the title). Instead of playing the normal F on “love” you play it an octave higher. Can you hear playing that higher note while your left hand is playing ascending notes leading you into the song?

I’ve found this technique useful for changing up intros, but it could very well be useful at other points of an arrangement too. Try it out!